As all of the Chicago Bears’ losses have been this season, Sunday’s defeat in New York will be a tough one to swallow for everyone invested in the Monsters of the Midway.
The Bears fell to 8-4 overall after the somewhat surprising 30-27 overtime loss to the lowly New York Giants. Chicago has now lost four games by a combined 14 points.
Most Bears fans would argue that their team should be at least 10-2. Personally, I find it tough to disagree with that statement. One could even claim that Chicago is a few plays away from being 11-1.
Regardless, there is a valid excuse for losing to the 4-8 Giants. The Bears were once again without starting quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. Chase Daniel got the nod after delivering a solid Thanksgiving performance in Detroit. However, this time Daniel was the thorn in Chicago’s heel.
Daniel went 26-39 through the air for 285 yards and a touchdown. But, Daniel threw two costly interceptions. The first was taken to the house for six points.
Based on the outcome of the game, it’s almost inevitable that Chicago would have improved to 9-3 if Trubisky was under center. It’s likely the Bears would have won in convincing fashion as well.
The loss was undoubtedly frustrating. Although, it’s worth keeping in mind how resilient the 2018 Bears are. Though it didn’t result in a victory, Chicago’s late comeback was nothing short of incredible.
On another positive note, the late rally most likely has Chicago players feeling motivated heading into primetime against the Los Angeles Rams next Sunday night.
Before we get into too much detail, let’s break down the two most significant reactions from the Bears’ loss at MetLife Stadium.
Trubisky’s injury may be more severe than indicated.
Besides risking further injury, the only other good thing that came from Trubisky sitting on Sunday is that pessimistic fans will no longer take their starting quarterback for granted.
Whether or not you have your doubts in Trubisky, the Giants game made it apparent how valuable the quarterback’s impact is.
Head coach Matt Nagy explained prior to Sunday how Trubisky would have been available this week if for a playoff game. So, Nagy wanted to be cautious and avoid the risk of Trubisky aggravating his shoulder further.
If those statements were true, Nagy is essentially saying that it’s not worth starting Trubisky, at a little less than 100 percent, because Chicago can afford to lose.
But, whether you believe so or not, beating the Giants was actually extremely important for the Bears. This leads me to believe that Trubisky is more hurt than Chicago’s head coach led us to believe.
Before facing New York, Chicago really only had two “gimmes” left on its schedule. One, of course, against the Giants. The second against San Francisco in week 16.
Other than that, the Bears play the 11-1 Rams and Green Bay Packers at home, as well as the Minnesota Vikings on the road to conclude the regular season. None of which will be easy victories.
With that in mind, it’s crucial for the Bears to take the wins that are handed to them. After all, beating New York and the 49ers would give Chicago 10 wins on the season.
A double-digit win total would basically guarantee a playoff berth, and maybe the division. Winning 11 games, which would have been less in doubt had the Bears defeated New York, would essentially seal the NFC North title.
I’m not saying the Bears are doomed. However, it’s easy to see how important the Giants game actually was, considering it would almost guarantee 10 victories this season.
Obviously, Matt Nagy was aware of that as well. So, I’m sure if Trubisky was actually good to go, he would have gotten the nod.
Sure, it wasn’t a playoff game. But, this late in the season, with Minnesota still very alive in the division race, Nagy was definitely treating it like one.
Since Chicago’s head coach was certainly aware of the significance, he would have started Mitch if he could have.
Nagy’s brilliance is evident. But, at times, the head coach tries to get too cute.
I’ve made the comparison before, but I’ll say it again. As the 2018 season has progressed, Nagy has reminded me more and more of Joe Maddon.
Nagy is an unconventional head coach who is extremely effective in unique ways, like Maddon. However, sometimes Nagy’s resourcefulness and outside-the-box thinking result in over-analyzation. Cubs fans know how Maddon has a tendency of doing the same.
As smart as a coach may be, trying to do too much can hurt a team. Looking in between the lines can be unnecessary when the obvious decision is right in front of you. This is when both Nagy and Maddon can be frustrating for fans.
Against the Giants, Nagy made a bonehead decision that came back to bite the Bears.
Chicago’s head coach opted to burn his second timeout of the first half with the Bears on defense and the Giants facing a 3rd and 23 from their own 24.
New York seemingly waved the white flag for the half. Pat Shurmur had already accepted a 14-7 deficit heading into the locker room. However, since Chicago elected to call a timeout, of course, Shurmur was going to run one more play.
Eli Manning ran a halfback draw to dangerous rookie running back Saquon Barkley. Though handing the ball off wasn’t an aggressive move by New York, the Bears calling a timeout gave the Giants some time to work with if Barkley broke loose for a big play.
Well, he did. The rookie scampered for 22 yards before being pushed out of bounds with six seconds left in the half. Manning then connected with tight end Rhett Ellison near the sidelines for a nine-yard gain. This set up Aldrick Ross for a 57-yard field goal attempt that he drilled.
Not only did this cut the Bears’ lead to 14-10, but it also gave New York momentum which they fully utilized in the second half. The Giants scored touchdowns on their first two possessions of the second half.
For no valid reason, Nagy gave New York a rejuvenated sense of hope heading into halftime. If he didn’t call that timeout, the game could have played out much differently.
Manning was struggling before the last drive of the first half. Then, the veteran quarterback suddenly came to life. So did the rest of Pat Shurmur’s team.
I see what Nagy was trying to do. The head coach wasn’t thinking that 12 or so seconds would have been enough for Daniel to assemble a scoring drive. Instead, Nagy wanted to get the ball in running back Tarik Cohen’s hands one more time before half, via the punt return.
Sure, Cohen is as explosive as can be. Nevertheless, Nagy’s decision to call a timeout wasn’t smart given the circumstance. Even if Cohen took the return into field goal range, there was a chance the game clock would have expired.
Cohen most likely would have had to take the return to the end zone for Nagy’s decision to pay off. The odds of Cohen doing so were extremely unlikely.
Nagy simply tried to do too much, and make something out of nothing. Other than calling that timeout, Nagy coached exceptionally on Sunday. However, an easily avoidable decision cost the Bears the game.
Similar to how Maddon overworking Chapman in the 2016 World Series almost cost the Cubs the title.
- Born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Eddie Herz is a senior journalism major at Colorado State University. He has been a beat reporter for CSU's newspaper, the Rocky Mountain Collegian, since he was a freshman. Eddie has also contributed to the BTPowerhouse.com, a sister website of SBnation. Eddie will be the CSU Football beat reporter for the Rocky Mountain Collegian this coming Fall.
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